Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We had a Ball! Final activity of the year

As our theme week concluded, we celebrated beach day.  As a final activity, the students made a beach ball book of memories.  Each of the students wrote about times that they "had a ball" in school this year, on circular writing paper.  The students then made a beach ball out of tracers and construction paper.  Once again, I used clip art to make the tracers as well as the ball.  The students cut out stripes in the colors of their choosing, and glued them to the ball.  On the back of the ball we stapled their memory pages.  I loved hearing about the events that they enjoyed, especially the ones that I had forgotten or had felt the kids were not as engaged as I would have liked.  Lesson learned: never give up on a lesson or activity!  Different students connect to different things, and that value is immeasurable!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Olympic Pride

On the final two days of our Sports and Games mini-unit, my students learned about the Olympic Games.  They were excited to learn about the history, but were also engaged as we completed science and math activities.  It was especially interesting to see the students make connections to their Foss Science units of Air and Weather and Balance and Motion.  As a literacy extension, the children learned about the goals set by athletes hoping to make it to the London 2012 games, and the commitment it takes to achieve these goals.  The students completed a writing assignment about what event they might like to compete in, and what they think it would take to be part of the Olympics.  Some students even created new events, complete with rules and diagrams. 

Download "If I Were and Olympian" writing prompt here.

As a final piece, the students created a patriotic decoration they could display throughout the summer: Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and during the Olympics. I let each student choose a piece of construction paper for a background, and the rest of the paper came from our scrap collection. The students were given minimal directions, and had creative freedom to design a "Olympic poster".  Many of the students included the Olympic rings and the torch into their designs.  When the posters were complete, each student chose 12 strips of paper that I had them glue to the bottom.  Since I wanted the outcome to be a surprise, I did not tell them why - they all thought I was crazy!  After this step, I had them curl the poster into a tube and glue.  We then added a string hanger to the top, and all of the kids figured it out: a paper wind sock.  I love mystery projects, because the kids have to listen carefully to directions if they want to get to the final product.  These turned out great.  We sent them home with their writing piece, and many of the kids even attached their writing to the final project.  I told them to display them with pride, and one of my students replied, "Olympic Pride!"

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Who has a question? Comprehension Questions for Higher Thinking

All year my students have been completing "think and respond" questions at the end of their weekly stories.  A while back, I started to notice in our reading group discussions that the students were learning how to answer questions, but were not always thinking beyond the questions.  I designed a worksheet for the students to complete individually, that forced them to think about their stories from a different angle.  We then used these questions for our reading group discussions.  For the first couple of weeks, the questions were very simple and did not require much thought.  When we had our final discussions of the year, I was so pleased with the higher level thinking questions my first graders came up with for the group!  Their comprehension of the events and understanding of the author's intent has come so far since September.  My goal is to come up with more activities that encourage this kind of thought for next year, and engage the children in a way that makes them feel confident and proud.

You can download the worksheet here:
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Hike and Scavenger Hunt Activity - Part 2

This is one of the activities that our team completed as a follow up to our hike.  This is an activity that one of our teachers found online, and we each tweaked it a bit to fit our class needs.  I made boot templates from a coloring sheet, so each of the students could choose a color and create their own boots.  The writing portion of the project was completed first, and I was so pleased with the work the students completed.  I encouraged complete sentences, descriptive language, and multiple items, and I received above and beyond that.  I was so proud of these kids as they did high quality work the last week of school, amidst the excitement and changes in their daily routine.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt

After a couple of weeks of report cards, assessments, and packing up, I'm finally back to blogging!  I have so many new things to share, it may take a couple of weeks to get it all posted!
This is our last week of school, and each day has a theme.  Tomorrow is Camping Day.  We are going to make s'mores in the sun, read about camping in our state, and go on a nature hike.  To make the hike more engaging, I just created a scavenger hunt worksheet.  This year, our science units were Air and Weather, Plants and Animals, and Balance and Motion.  For the hunt, I asked questions that would encourage the kids to think about topics we studied.  After the nature hike, the students will use the items they found to create an acrostic poem, and a short essay about everything the saw, heard and felt.  It should be a good time, and a great way to help them stay on task when they are so excited for vacation to begin. 

Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt Download

Happy Hiking!

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